OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Christmas came a little early for the children of U.S. Strategic Command personnel as a celebration filled with crafts, music and even a visit from Santa brought some holiday cheer Dec. 11.
The USSTRATCOM children's holiday party, held at the Bennie Davis Maintenance Facility, attracted more than 200 people from the joint command.
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, U.S. Strategic Command commander, plays Santa Claus at the USSTRATCOM children's holiday party Dec. 11 at the Bennie Davis Maintenance Facility. (Photo by Steve Cunningham)
"The kids are having a great time and they know it's about family, memories, being good to each other and being kind, so I think STRATCOM is doing a great job," said Tech. Sgt. Alicia Maharaj, NCO-in-charge of Secretary of the Joint Staff office, who brought her two daughters. "It's great the children see we're one family and they are part of it as well and that they're important. "
Children ventured around to different areas to create holiday-themed crafts, play in an inflatable bouncy house, watch holiday cartoon classics and eat hot dogs and snacks. Of course, the draw for many and the crowd favorite was Santa Claus played by Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, USSTRATCOM commander.
Event organizer, Master Sgt. Tom Grant, National Airborne Operations Center, NCO-in-charge of the advanced program office, said throwing the event took careful planning.
"We've been planning this all year. . . we said 'Okay, what needs to be done differently and how can we improve it,'" he said. "It takes three things to make an event like this successful - volunteers, time and money. "
Sergeant Grant said fundraisers were held to accrue the needed funds. In addition, various organizations made donations to the Air Force's Top 3 organization which sponsored the event. He added that it was a joint effort among all the different branches of service.
"We had about 38 volunteers from various parts of STRATCOM," he said. "The volunteers are the ones who make it happen and they deserve a big 'thank you. ' If it weren't for the folks who were sitting here decorating ice cream cone Christmas trees or decorating cookies, none of this would have happened. "
With almost a full year of planning, numerous volunteer hours and the generosity of STRATCOM personnel, Sergeant Grant said there's one thing that made it all worth the effort.
"It's about the kids," Sergeant Grant said. "It gives the STRATCOM kids a venue to get out and have a ball for a couple of hours in the middle of the brutal, cold winter. "